Pregnancy is a beautiful, wonderful, ache-ridden time, but a time free from confusion, it is not. While trying to manage maternity leave and care, plan for future childcare, get the house in order with all of the baby gear, and oh yeah, trying to actually come to grips with the fact that you’ll soon be a parent, it can be a truly overwhelming time.
What makes it more overwhelming? Trying to navigate the process of your health insurance, medical payments, and all coverage-related benefits. Something as simple as getting that breast pump you need or finally getting checked into labor & delivery gets so much more complicated by having to make sure you’re calling the right people and providing all paperwork on time.
What makes it more overwhelming? Trying to navigate the process of your health insurance, medical payments, and all coverage-related benefits.
Well, Ashland Women’s Health is here to help you streamline a huge part of the process: getting your breast pump covered by your insurance company. If you’re choosing to breastfeed your little one, choosing and getting a breast pump can be a confusing process, even if you have insurance coverage that provides breast pumps at no cost.
They’ll work with you from start to finish to make sure you choose the pump that’s right for you and use the maximum benefits provided by your insurance company. They’ll even take care of all of the heavy lifting (i.e. paperwork), so you don’t have to. Just make a quick call, and your pump will be at your doorstep in a few days. It sounds too good to be true, yes, but it’s not.
To get you all the important details on how the process of getting a breast pump works, how to choose and use a pump, and the importance of working with a lactation consultant after baby arrives, we spoke with Caitlin McNeily, vice president of sales for Ashland Women’s Health and The Lactation Network. Not only is she the authority on the insurance-covered breast pump and in-home lactation consultation process, but she’s also a working mother of three who is dedicated to providing all moms and babies with the breastfeeding support they deserve. She believes fully in moms helping moms.
Here’s what you need to know about getting a breast pump through insurance.
Walk us through the process of getting an insurance-covered breast pump through Ashland Women’s Health.
The first step is to fill out a form on the Ashland Women’s Health website; this will include your insurance and contact information. After that, Ashland Women’s Health will do all the legwork with your insurance. Yes, seriously.
We will call your insurance company to confirm your plan benefits and breast pump coverage (this is helpful, so the mom doesn’t have to worry about making this call.) We will also secure a prescription for you from your physician (again, something else to take off mom’s plate).
We will then work with you to help determine which pump is best for you — our Which Pump is Right for You quiz is very helpful!
The quiz asks moms various questions to help figure out lifestyle and pumping needs; then we suggest several pumps that align with each mom’s results.
How far in advance can I apply for my pump? How long does it take to get a pump?
Apply for a pump when you are ready — we have moms start the process as soon as 8 to 10 weeks and moms who call us from the hospital!
The process is extremely quick. Once we have all our information needed to ship a pump, the mom will have her breast pump delivered at no charge within two days of selecting the product they want.
Is there any additional paperwork involved?
We handle all of the paperwork for you!
Do I need a note from my doctor to confirm my pregnancy?
You will need a prescription for the breast pump from your practitioner, but we call your doctor and get this for you, as well.
Does insurance cover the pump and pump parts or just the pump?
Most plans cover both the breast pump and additional accessories – which are necessary for pumping moms to have. Pump parts can also be expensive to purchase out of pocket, so we always tell our moms to let us provide these for you whenever we can. Like with the breast pump process, we handle the insurance aspect of pump parts as well, so all mom needs to do is confirm her insurance information and tell us what she needs.
What problems could expectant moms encounter trying to get their breast pump?
Some insurance plans are still grandfathered under old coverage regulations (boo!), meaning they are exempt from covering breast pumps. In this event, we offer moms several pump options for out-of-pocket purchase.
Tell us about the different kinds of breast pumps. What are the benefits? How do you decide which is best for you?
All of our breast pumps are double electric, meaning you are able to pump both breasts at the same time. We work with all major manufacturers to ensure we are carrying only top-of-the-line quality breast pumps. Since we are the experts, we are happy to chat with you via phone, e-mail or text to make sure you’re getting the best pump for you. Our quiz is a great place to start too.
The majority of our pumps are considered “closed systems” — meaning they offer a barrier between milk collection and tubing. We also provide several portable options for moms on-the-go who may need to pump away from an outlet or who want the convenience of a smaller product to throw in a bag. In addition to that, we also carry hospital-grade rentals and manual pumps, which are covered by many plans.
How can a mom prepare for breastfeeding and pumping before the baby arrives?
This is a great question! Getting a breast pump is high up on that list, as you never know what potential curve balls in your breastfeeding plans may be thrown your way.
Ashland Women’s Health’s also has a new division: The Lactation Network. The Lactation Network provides in-home lactation consultations, at no out-of-pocket cost, to women all over the Chicagoland area. This is, hands-down, the most valuable service to help a new mom breastfeed. There is nothing like someone coming into your home early in your postpartum experience to give you assistance and support. This early support is integral to a lot of women having successful nursing relationships after managing initial challenges or difficulties. The early days are crucial, so let us know if you are needing help.
Ashland Women’s Health is also dedicated to providing informative and professional breastfeeding content on our blog, too. Through The Lactation Network, we have a number of IBCLCs supporting us in our endeavor to make breastfeeding support the standard of care.
How do I use my breast pump?
We recommend you visit the Ashland Women’s Health website to watch several product videos. The manufacturer sites all have how-to videos and YouTube is your friend in this instance. Many hospitals and birth centers also provide pump assistance during your recovery process. And, if you have any questions, ask!
What happens if my pump somehow malfunctions once I start using it?
This is not a frequent issue, but when it happens, moms usually reach out to us first, and we are happy to help! The first step is to call the manufacturer for some over-the-phone troubleshooting. After that point, the manufacturer will likely send a replacement product.
Because we are moms, and our patients are moms, we know that their need to replace the pump is urgent. (For example, they are an exclusive pumper, or they are leaving for a business trip the next day.) That’s why we will always stop what we are doing until they have a replacement product in hand or a clear plan in place.
Can I get a new pump with my next baby?
Yes, you are able to get a new pump with your next baby. Manufacturer warranties are typically one year. There are a couple of exceptions which allow a new pump every 36 months and one plan that restricts the mom to every five years, but these are the anomaly, so don’t worry. It is best to check with us, so that we can confirm your plan and benefits.
Now you’ve got the breast pump, here’s what you need to know about setting yourself up for breastfeeding success and how a lactation consultant can help.
What is the benefit of having a lactation consultant come into your home?
The benefits of early intervention breastfeeding assistance for mom and baby are invaluable. It’s important that mom is in a comfortable space where she can learn to nurse in her real environment—practice in chairs she will sit, in bed, etc.
An in-home lactation consultation allows mom to confidently learn breastfeeding techniques, avoid early pitfalls that can hinder breastfeeding, and weigh baby before and after feedings for assessment of milk supply and transfer of milk. They also engage the partner in breastfeeding, provide nurturing, and help build confidence in new moms.
When should a parent call a lactation consultant?
We believe every mom wishing to breastfeed should call a lactation consultant, whether it is your first or fifth baby, and every mom should have access to this service. We recommend calling a lactation consultant before your baby arrives to schedule your visit as soon as your little one arrives and you are comfortable at home. It’s important to address any breastfeeding issues early on as they can quickly progress to larger problems.
Walk us through how an appointment with a lactation consultant works.
Once you contact a lactation consultant, you’ll have a brief background conversation over the phone so you can hit the ground running when the lactation consultant arrives at your home. The mom will be given instructions to not feed their baby within two hours of the visit so that the time can be used to feed and weigh the baby while the lactation consultant is there.
During the appointment, the consultant will assess mom and baby, review both medical histories, work on latching, feeding, review how to pump, and help create a plan to move forward.
If you are in the Chicago area, you can fill out The Lactation Network’s online form to be paired with a lactation consultant in their area.
What challenges do lactation consultants typically see with breastfeeding moms and babies?
Some of the issues our lactation consultants address, but are not at all limited to, include: incorrect latching, milk supply issues (both oversupply and undersupply), baby weight loss, mastitis (clogged ducts), finding the best breastfeeding positions for mom and baby, and how to use a breast pump correctly.
However, there doesn’t always have to be an immediate concern for a visit with a lactation consultant. Even if mom and baby are going great, the lactation consultant is there to provide support and encouragement, as well as more breastfeeding tips and tricks to make this the best possible option for mom and baby.
How can a mom tell if a baby is latching correctly?
Ensuring a good latch is very important to ensure your baby is eating effectively, as well as protecting your nipples in the process. In general, you’ll want to make sure the entire nipple is in the baby’s mouth and make sure baby’s lips are flared out while latched. Check the baby’s jaw and throat for signs of swallowing.
This question can be very specific to the mom and baby, so it would benefit mom and baby to have a professional lactation consultant provide them with one-on-one guidance and support to account for proper latching.
Is there a way to tell if baby is getting enough milk?
Wet and poopy diapers are the primary indicator. Your baby’s belly is very tiny the first few weeks, and before your milk comes in, your body is making colostrum, which is a thick substance providing them with the necessary nutrients they need in those first several days.
During feedings, look for emptying breasts during feedings, active sucking, and swallowing. There are a few cues to look for when a newborn is satisfied including a relaxed posture, slowing down at the breast, and falling asleep. Again, a lactation visit will give the mom a lot of piece of mind here with a pre- and post-feed weigh in.
This post was in partnership with Ashland Women’s Health, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.